tv Presidents Weekly Radio Address CSPAN December 19, 2009 6:15pm-6:30pm EST
funding for several nonprofit groups that track human rights abuses in iran, though others say these groups have little to do with advancing democracy there. can you tell us a little bit about that situation? >> yeah. you know, we are in a place like iran a very closed society where we don't have a diplomatic presence, it's very challenging to figure out how to best influence change. and yet change is clearly occurring there. and there is a growing dissatisfaction with the government after the elections earlier this year there were street demonstrations. those demonstrations continue. we've done a range of things quietly to support those who are pushing for change without becoming so public about it that we become part of the government's story. the government would like to
demonize the united states and say that everybody who is opposing its policies is a tool of the united states. we don't subscribe to that. it's certainly not true. one of the things that we've done in particular is to work with those who are trying to use new media, the internet, et cetera. one of the things that happened when the street demonstrations took place is that people were texting each other using twitter. and a young state department official found out, realized that twitter was going to shut down for servicing at a critical moment and he called up and made sure that the service stayed open. so we're looking for new ways to allow people in iran to speak to one another and to amplify their voices on the international stage. it's a critically important time there and we're very involved in a range of ways. >> speaking of twitter, we have this message from someone who identifies themself as c-span
junky writing "sanctions in iraq killed scores of thousands of children. isn't hillary planning sanctions on iran doesn't hurt government but hurts the people." >> well, you know, there is a wide-ranging review now of how to deal with iran in particular in the context of the nuclear -- the danger of their becoming a nuclear power. and sanctions are certainly one of the things that's being discussed. so what i'm saying is that however that discussion goes, from my perspective the real opportunity that we have now is that the iranian governmentñrñrs increasingly unpopular with its own people. there's a great frustration especially among young people that they're living in a society that's heading downward. and so it's in our interests again informally and indirectly be amplifying the voices of those who seek change and who are trying to promote a more
democratic, mow rights-respecting state. so whatever we can do to encourage that kind of a debate to go on and to support people who are in the middle of that, i think we ought to be doing it. >> next up is david on our line for -- i'm sorry, on our line for republicans calling out of peoria, illinois. go ahead. >> good morning. >> good morning. >> what was interesting is on several notes when president obama went to china and obviously didn't even bring up human rights and yet it's position turd that it's one of its key focuses on administration. and again with opportunities in iran, i mean, iran already calls the united states the great say the an. they already want to kill us. and so i -- the great satan. so i guess at one point does kind of lip service to human rights to actually do something. it's not so much me being critical of the administration.
but when you see your governmental leaders say one thing and then not do anything and you say you're taking a soft approach, a quiet approach, well, who cares? because it's not effective. and so it seems cowardly in my mind. and so you know when you see this going on you just wonder, you know, it's more lip service than anything. and then if something does happen then you guys will take credit even though you didn't do a thing. >> michael posener. >> well, i don't accept that on a couple of levels. first of all, with respect to china, president obama did visit china recently and had a range of conversations both privately and publicly that addressed human rights issues. we continue to be concerned about the situation in tibet. we continue to be very concerned as well about the flight of the
wiegersn. we're concerned about religious freedom, about prisoners and their treatment. these are amish jews we're going to continue to raise, the president has and will continue to raise. he spoke at a public meeting in shanghai and talked about to students there about the importance of openness and again on the internet the ability of people to speak their minds. we're engaged with the chinese on a range of fronts, but human rights issues are very much part of that discussion and will continue to be. and again, one of the things that i find both president obama and secretary clinton are very pragmatic people. we talk about principled pragmatism. we are looking to get results, not just to speak retoricly and to say thing that is sound like we are being strong. we want to get results. and so in china, in iran and elsewhere, we're trying to see where are there opportunities actually to push an agenda that's going to get a result and
help real people in their lives. >> next up is milwaukee, wisconsin. ronald on our line for democrats. go ahead. >> yes. when he was a senator, president obama took a high-profile trip to africa. and among other places he visited the poor. but now as the president, we don't hear much from him regarding the issue of the poor. probably i know that u.s. might be watching some things and all that kind of stuff. but this type of a low-profile posture he has assumed as a president, it really does not bode well. and just what is exactly the obama administration currently doing to deal with this issue of the poor in africa -- darfur in africa? >> well, as you say, darfur is one of the most serious crisis that we face in africa or anywhere in the world. 300,000 people at least have died, been killed, several
million people are internally displaced and millions more have been forced to flee across the border into chad. there is an envoy, special envoy the president appointed general scott gracian who's working more broadly on sued an ease issues. one of the challenges in sudan is not only is there a crisis in darfur but there is also a coming apart of what had been a very frank aisle peace between the north and the south. and so part of the challenge is to both deal with that emerging crisis and at the same time focus on the continuing tragedy in darfur. you're absolutely right. it is a crisis. it is a very depressing situation. it's a humanitarian crisis. we're trying to deal with the humanitarian side, and at the same time try to find a broader political solution. and i should add that we're also supportive of the efforts of the international criminal court which has brought an indictment
against president beshear of sudan. so we've got a lot of things going on there. but not for one second do we believe that enough has been done. we know that there's a crisis and we know we need to address it. >> our next call for michael pose any comes from bill in south omaha, nebraska. >> first off, merry christmas. you use the term "principled pragmatism." that is a contradictions in terms i will suggest to you. but outside of that you started off this conversation talking about the united states is willing to admit to the united nations that we have -- and i don't agree with you -- but tortured people. but then you went on to say that united states was going to evaluate several other things. well, you evade -- you were not specific at all about what those other things with. and i probably would disagree with you. but there's one more thing. and that is it appears to me
that what you're talking about when you talk about rights is not the rights we have in the bill of rights but a new set of rights that want to be created. and i will just say that when obama goes around the world bowing, what that is is the altruistic tenet of self-sacrifice. and what he is really doing is he's self-sacrificing the american taxpayer or the american people. >> we'll leave it there. michael posener. >> i have a couple of reactions to. that first of all, i think when we look at ourselves we're not doing it from a position of weakness. we're doing it from a position of strength. this is a country founded on principles of human rights and democracy. thinks part of our d.n.a. and it served us well for 230 years to be a leader on human rights in our own society. the idea that we would continue to improve our society only strengthens that perception and it makes us more capable and
more effective as we go out in the world. the second thing is that i think the notion of principled pragmatism is exactly the right way to approach these issues. and i don't think it's a contradiction. we are not saying that we've abandoned our prince. the in fact we're living our principles in our foreign policy. we're pushing for things like the right of people to practice their own religion and to speak freely and participate in a aç; political process. those are things we believe in. we are very determined to do it in a way to get a practical result. we want to make a difference not just make a point. for us, it's really important to tie to figure out how do we apply those principles in a way to make a difference in people's lives
host: we are talking to michael polsner. next call on the line for republicans go ahead. caller: i've read articles about poor women in europe almost being sold into safery and prostitution and the culprits from israel. you know we never say anything about this. host: have you seen evidence of this? caller: i've read articles host: where? caller: in magazines. i've seen it on tv before. host: ron, we are going to move on to alcorn, wisconsin. clayton?
are you with me? caller: i am. host: turn down your television. this will work better. caller: i have it turned off. i guess, you know water boarding has been determined as torture. long before obama declared that it was torture. we have cheney running around the country saying we should be torturing and doing more of this. we don't want other countries or people doing it to us. yet, here we are doing it knowingly that we shouldn't be didding it. my question is why didn't anything ever come about on cheney even today still
advocating at the top of his lungs? guest: before i came into government. i've been in this position a little over three months. i worked for many years with a private human rights organization. i probably spent the last sim or seven years working on the issue of human rights national security. i believe we turned a page on that. this president won't allow that. we made terrible mistakes. they hurt us in the world by
engaging in cruel practicesb we have gun to look back in several ways. the attorney general has appointed a special prosecutor to look at some abuses by the cia in the previous administration. over time there are going to be other ways to evaluate what happened in the past. the purpose of doing that is to prevent future situations or leaders. deciding that that is the right policy. we should never, no government should engage in cruelty or inter gation. as long as i'm in government, i'll make sure to push for that around the world. >> next up, calling on our line